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Nets and Hawks ring in the New Year at Barclays

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Atlanta Hawks v Brooklyn Nets Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images

That was a great game to wrap up the year. The Brooklyn Nets and Atlanta Hawks closed out 2020 in style with a great game that saw the Nets come away with a 145-141 victory. Sign me up for games like that every night.

Read about the game from Atlanta’s perspective. When this game wraps up, the Hawks are heading back to Atlanta to open up 2021 at home against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Saturday night. That will be the second leg of a New Year’s back-to-back.

Where to follow the game

YES Network on TV. WFAN 101.9 FM on radio. Tip off after 7:30.

Injuries

Spencer Dinwiddie and Nicolas Claxton are out, Claxton for another few weeks, per Steve Nash. We’ll know more about Dinwiddie after his surgery next week.

Danilo Gallinari sprained his right ankle and didn’t return to Wednesday’s game. No word on his availability for this one, but it's likely he sits out. Tony Snell, Rajon Rondo, Kris Dunn, and Onyeka Okongwu are out. Trae Young is probable.

The game

Hey, the team staggered the star minutes! Coming into the game, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving had played all of their minutes together. However, Steve Nash managed to stagger their minutes as 7/11 each took turns operating as the focal point of the offense throughout the night. More on Irving in a minute. As for Durant, he’s continued to look excellent in his maiden Brooklyn voyage. Imagine what he'll look like when he's fully in rhythm.

The people's champ Nekias Duncan had a nice thread about the game that you should check out

The interior might be the biggest issue facing the Nets this season. Atlanta won the rebounding battle by 14 and scored 50 points in the paint (they lost that category to the Nets though). The Nets are going to need a ton of heavy lifting from the duo of DeAndre Jordan and Jarrett Allen to handle all of the dirty work and reduce the amount of second chances teams get against them. Allen, Brian Lewis reports, leads the NBA in offensive rebounds, offensive rebound percentage and rebound percentage.

We figured Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot would be the replacement for Spencer Dinwiddie, and he was. He started and was a part of the Nets finishing five lineup as well. The shots weren’t falling, but that’ll be there more times than not. However, after Nash switch TLC onto Trae Young, the mercurial Young shot 2-of-5 and had two turnovers.

Player to watch: Trae Young

You ever play a video game and someone keeps spamming the same move over and over again? That’s kinda what Trae Young does when he forces contact on pick-and-rolls, as shown here by the excellent Jackson Frank

Dan Devine of The Ringer has more:

As we’ve seen with stylistic antecedents like Harden and Chris Paul over the years, plays like these can drive opponents, opposing fan bases, and neutral observers crazy. The more Young does this stuff, and the more successfully he does it, the more you’ll probably start to hear people carp about him chiseling and grifting and engaging in tax evasion for personal gain. I’m guessing Lloyd Pierce and the Atlanta faithful won’t mind those slings and arrows so much if the upshot is 10 to 12 free points a night, getting to play larger chunks of each quarter in the bonus, and potentially making defenders more leery about closing too hard to Young, affording him more airspace to fire away or rifle a pinpoint pass to a teammate and keep the Hawks’ offensive machine churning.

I just hope we don’t have some existential debate about Young and the aesthetic appeal of foul drawing or whatever in the same ways we did with James Harden.

The Hawks offense has been exceptional thanks in large part to his free throw shooting, but perhaps most importantly, his ability to finish at the rim. Per Basketball-Reference, he’s made almost 79 percent of his shots at the rim. When you’re a threat to score from anywhere and make a living at the line, you become impossible to defend.

With Rondo out, Young will carry most of the shot creating responsibilities for the Hawks. With his calf being iffy, we don’t know how much he’ll play and how effective he’ll be.

The fun thing about Kyrie Irving is that his shot can be non-existent for most of the night, but he can make you forget all about it in an instant. Irving had plenty of good looks in the first three quarters, but it just wasn’t happening. He flipped it in the fourth by scoring 17 points, going 7/11 (heh) from the field, and making his usual array of crunchtime baskets. For Steve Nash, his team is truly never out of a game whenever Irving and Durant are playing.

From the Vault

Rest in peace, MF DOOM

More reading: Peachtree Hoops